Apple peeler (no, not a ray gun). Four euros at a vide-grenier. One star (see below). More fun than use.

From the hot stone to the duck press, the human ingenuity that has been expended on the invention of cooking utensils has been exceeded only by the human ingenuity that has been expended on cooking techniques (see recipes). Some of the entries here are somewhat tongue in cheek: for example, patent oyster openers cry out for patent oysters, because ordinary oysters are probably most easily opened with common-or-garden oyster knives.

All of the weirder implements here were bought at vide-greniers. Why were they for sale? Well, they might have been completely useless to begin with, or perhaps the people who were selling them had stopped using them for some other reason. They might not know how, perhaps because their grandparents had died. They might no longer cook much. They might have something better. The implements might take so long to clean that it was quicker and easier to use simpler tools. Tools that were practical when cooking for an extended family of people who burned 5000 calories a day as farm labourers might be less useful for feeding a smaller modern family with sedentary occupations, let alone a retired couple. They might reflect the fact that most people buy shelled scallops, rather than scallops in the shell. And so forth.

Even so, surprisingly many of the tools listed here are far more useful than anyone might expect. All are categorized using a Michelin-plus scale: zero to three stars. The Michelin scale begins with “worth visiting if you're in the area” (one star); “worth a detour” (two stars); and “worth a special trip” (three stars). For kitchen implements we start with zero stars (not worth house-room) and then move on to one star (sometimes useful if you have one); two stars (worth buying if you don't have one); and three stars (once you have one, you will not want to live without it). Of course these values are subjective, but so are Michelin stars.

The Five Shilling Knife

The Hunt for the Patent Oyster

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